New blueprint for Scotland's rural economy: recommendations to Scottish Ministers

The National Council of Rural Advisers' report detailing their final recommendations to Scottish Ministers.

What Rural Needs: A Rural Economy Frameworka (REF)

REF Explained

The REF is an outcomes-based approach aligned to the National Performance Framework. This will ensure Scotland's rural economy can continue to contribute to, and maximise Scotland's economic growth. The framework is based on;

  • exploring how best to support and develop the rural economy, to ensure its successful contribution to Scotland's Economic Strategy
  • identifying opportunities within the rural economy that align to Scotland's Economic Strategy
  • understanding how National Performance Framework outcomes can be most successfully achieved in rural Scotland

The REF describes our overarching vision and ten outcomes that tell us what success will look like. These outcomes have been identified through the insights gathered through our consultation process and research carried out by the NCRA, and are also informed by previous policy development work, for example the 2008 OECD review [5] , which remains relevant today.

Rural Economy Framework Outcomes:

1. To have a rural economy that is embedded in the National Performance Framework and given equal importance in policy-making and investment decisions across government
2. To have national economic plans and industry-led strategies that are joinedup and demonstrate a supportive, integrated approach
3. To communicate an ambitious and confident narrative about the rural economy
4. To have diversity and potential for growth in the rural economy, delivered through targeted support and the development of credible finance models
5. To value our natural assets and the people who work with them
6. To have highly valued, flexible, adaptive and skilled people
7. To have a sustainable and profitable primary production and added value sector
8. To have a supportive enterprise environment for the development and growth of our rural businesses
9. To have improved and inclusive access to rural housing solutions
10. To have a robust infrastructure, with improved and inclusive access to services, mobility and connectivity

All activity should be underpinned by a commitment to equality, open and proactive communication, and credible measurement.

National Performance Framework

Who will make it happen?

Making recommendations is the simple part. The challenge lies in turning these recommendations into reality, by harnessing the enthusiasm surrounding this work so far.

To that end, the NCRA suggests a robust governance structure should be in place to provide accountability and drive progress, including;

  • an REF Action Group, accountable to Cabinet Ministers, with the authority to make quick, effective decisions and provide leadership across the organisation
    • Membership should include representation at Director level across government, the Chief Economic Adviser, a member of the Strategic Board, the Scottish Government officer coordinating REF activity and three independent advisers
    • The action group will co-ordinate, reinforce and complement the aims and objectives of relevant government and industry strategic plans to ensure REF outcomes are achieved
  • appointment of a Scottish Government official to coordinate REF activity
  • an annual action plan, to provide a mechanism for reviewing progress and priorities, aligned to the Programme for Government and the Strategic Board Enterprise and Skills Strategy



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